Friday, August 28, 2009

the cilantro sprigs that made me smile

I needed some cilantro the other day so I bought me some from the grocery's chilled section. It was just a bunch of short sprigs, the kind that still looked fresh-picked because of the bit of soil that clung to whatever was left of the roots.

When I was about to chop up the cilantro, my dad asked for the root parts. He wanted to plant them, and see if they'd live. I didn't think they would, considering that only some root fragments were left, which have probably been refrigerated for hours if not days. But he went ahead and stuck them in some soil. He reasoned that he just wanted to see what if - if they died, there's no loss because we would have been throwing the roots away anyway. If they lived, that'd mean new cilantro.

To our surprise the leftover bits of cilantro stretched outward after they've been in the soil for less than 24 hours. They looked even greener and healthier. I'm not sure that means they'll live for good, but seeing them alive is still a good smile-maker.

Survivors, aren't they?

We actually already have an herb garden outside our dwelling - oregano, lots of basil, fennel, some grasslike thing I don't recognize that tastes like onion - but I don't think we've ever had any cilantro. I'm excited at the idea of not having to go to the grocery for cilantro anymore. I hope these guys survive and thrive.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

fave 80's movies

Following last Thursday's pattern, I'll be listing 13 faves this week. This time, 80's movies. I had a hard time trimming it down to 13, so I have 13 each for various genre:

My fave sci-fi / fantasy flicks from the 80's
  • Labyrinth (1986) - This was groundbreaking in its time, me thinks. And David Bowie was just so cool ( O Goblin King, Goblin King, I don't have a kid brother but if you're that cute I hope you visit my room next).
  • The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and
  • Return of the Jedi(1983) - As expected from a geek like me. And who wouldn't remember that scene -
I am your father! --
  • Back To The Future (1985) - I've seen it soooo many times, there was I point I could recite it from memory.
  • Willow (1988) - Magic and stuff. I never knew that was Val Kilmer until lately.
  • Legend - fantasy with a love story on the side, starring a young, awkward Tom Cruise.
  • Flight of the Navigator (1986) - Another amazing Disney that fed my fantasy-hunger. The most unforgettable bits were the protagonist's first flying lessons, the ending and the silver, liquid metal the ship was made of.
  • The Last Starfighter (1984) - It wasn't that great a movie, but I enjoyed it, watched it over and over until I memorized it.
  • Neverending Story - What 80's kid wouldn't have this in his list of faves?
  • E. T. - I thought (still do) that the alien was incredibly gross, but I enjoyed the story.
  • Ghostbusters - Monumental, me thinks. The movie spurred on a cartoon, a sequel, tons of toys and various merchadise that were all part of the 80's experience. My fave would be the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
  • Tron - I think this was the first film to use CGI, so that makes it a landmark of sorts in film history. The characters were a bit two-dimensional - well, because, they really were. It's one of those iconic movies that can't be remade - because it would just seem absolutely low-tech and stupid; updating the story would require a 99% overhaul and that won't be a remake anymore.
  • Short Circuit
  • The Princess Bride (1987) - A lighthearted classic.
My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

My fave drama flicks from the 80's
  • Empire of the Sun (1987)- Immense. The young Christian Bale was remarkable.
  • The Last Emperor (1987) - Though found it intense, I wanted to know more about Henry Pu Yi and China. Watching it helped me a bit with my Asian history in later years.
  • Full Metal Jacket (1987) - Unforgettable and powerful. My parents should not have let me see this with them.
  • St. Elmo's Fire
  • Dead Poets' Society (1988) - Profound story, wonderful script, delightful cast.
I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world.
Oh Captain, My Captain.
  • Excalibur - I think this would be the best King Arthur movie I've seen ever. Or do I feel that only because i was young (too young, actually) when i saw it?
  • Gandhi - Heaaaavy.
  • Dirty Dancing
  • Stand By Me (1986) - Indelible, like its theme song.

My fave teen cheese flicks from the 80's
Some of them were actually silly, but they were light enough for my young mind to appreciate and remember:
  • Pretty In Pink - This was actually a painfully sucky movie, but I like it because it's iconic. Love the soundtrack .
  • Breakfast Club
Dear Mr. Vernon, We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. What we did was wrong. But we think you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. What do you care? You see us as you want to see us - in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct? That's the way we saw each other at 7:00 this morning. We were brainwashed.
  • 3'o Clock High
  • Satisfaction - It made me want to be in a girly band too.
  • Can't Buy Me Love - Back in the day when Patrick Dempsey was cast as one of the "loser" kids
  • Some Kind of Wonderful - Cheesy romantic but memorable.
  • Footloose - Kevin Bacon in a teen movie.
  • Revenge of the Nerds

  • Karate Kid - So many themes to this story.
Wax on, wax off...
  • Only You - Still one of my fave romance flicks to date. I fell in love with Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey and Rome in this flick.
  • Chances are - Really sweet.
  • When Harry Met Sally - Though it took me a few years to get what that diner scene was about. The more recent "A Lot Like Love" (Ashton Kutcher, Claire Forlani) is SOOO similar.
  • Mannequin - I actually thought it was cool back then, the song too. These days I'd be ashamed to admit it publicly.
  • The Secret of My Succe$s - I was a Michael J. Fox fan; did't care if the movie reeked. I thought it was a brilliant thing to do to make for yourself a non-superhero alter-ego.
  • Oh God, You Devil - Had a valuable lesson.

My fave animated / children's movies from the 80's

  • Annie - As far as i recall, this was the first movie I watched in the cinema
  • The Explorers - with a very young but already cute Ethan Hawke
  • The Little Mermaid (1989) - The first Disney fairy tale in a long while was certainly impressive, given its fresh, more modern flavor
  • Transformers: The Movie
Baa weep gran na weep nin ni bong!
  • Starchaser: the Legend of Orin - The one with the bladeless sword.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - It fascinated me.
  • Rainbow Brite - A girl cartoon, of course. I watched it before almost everyone else did and that was a big thing to me. My best friend and I had a make-believe game pattered around Rainbowland.
  • Rock & Rule - I think it had a bit of adult things in it, but I recall enjoying it
  • Macross: the Movie
Stage fright, go away ... this is my big day...
  • The Secret of NIMH
  • Troop Beverly Hills - Ever wonder how Tori Spelling looked before the nose job?

Action / Adventure ones
  • Goonies
  • Big Trouble in Little China -When I was a kid, i thought this was thrilling, fast-paced and complex. I caught it on cable lately and suddenly it seems a lot simpler than I thought it was - but still good. For an 80's flick i mean.
  • Batman - Tim Burton trumps Joel Schumacher.
  • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen - I wouldn't mind watching this now and letting my kids see it (except for the part with Uma's exposed breast prolly).
  • Terminator - Another iconic flick.
  • Inner Space - I found it fasciating, the thought of a miniaturized pilot baing able to explore the human body from the inside. I thought I wanted to do it too.
  • Robocop - It was disturbing for me as a kid, but I liked it.
  • Crocodile Dundee - There was something cool about it, but I can't seem to recall... the knife, perhaps?
  • Jake speed (1986) - Cornball flick, but it grew on me since it was one of those TV movies that were played over and over as fillers in the afternoons.
  • Indiana Jones - I grew up thiking i never saw a single 'Indiana Jones'. A year ago when before "Crystal skull' came out, I borrowed some DVDs of the first three 'Indies'. It turns out I already watched all of them as a kid, I just forgot. There were a lot of "treasure hunt" movies in the mid-80's and they all managed to merge into one in my head.
  • Die Hard - Bruce Willis rocked. This is the only 'Die Hard' that I like.

To this day, i have never seen Top Gun.

Spookies i didn't necessarily enjoy but were nonetheless unforgettable parts of my childhood
  • The Fly - Okay, not too spooky, but gross.
  • The Abyss - Back then, the CGI in this one seemed flawless.
  • Nightmare On Elm Street - I never wanted to watch this, but my mom shared an office with a video rental place and it was showing one afternoon.
One, two, he's coming for you,
Three, four, better lock your door
Five, six, get a crucifix,
Seven, eight, better stay up late,
Nine, ten, Freddie's back again
  • Poltergeist - Darnit. Gave me paranoia for days. I watched it again recently and despite my adulthood and the movie's old-school visual effects, it still spooked me.
  • The Shining
  • Gremlins
  • Jaws - This is another thing parents shouldn't let their kids watch.
  • Beetlejuice - I loved this.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

cream cheese samwich with a twist

Yesterday i fell in love with a new snack.

Tomato and basil sandwich with cream cheese

I was supposed to make myself a ham-lettuce-tomato-and-cheese with mayo on wheat bread, but I had an inspiration. I decided to grab the tub of cream cheese, pick some fresh basil leaves from the garden and make something else instead.

All the ingredients are favorite food items of mine. Pure b l i s s .


2 slices of wheat bread
Cream cheese
2 slices of tomato (preferably the plum kind, or the salad variety)
Fresh basil leaves
Optional: A sprinkling of rolled oats

and then:

Spread the lovely white cream cheese on the bread REAL thick.
Place (thin) tomato slices onto the stuff.
Lay a layer of fresh basil leaves.
Sprinkle the oatmeal.
Wolf down.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

thursday thirteen: 90's Movies

My blogger friend Chris of made a list of her fave 90's movies today for her Thursday Thirteen. I thought that was cute and cheerer-uppity so I decided to make my own list.

Maybe next week I'll do 80's movies. ;)

I loved the 90's - that was my teenager decade. I loved watching movies back then so much that it was practically a must to watch at least one flick every single week. Of course cinema rates back then were much more pocket-friendly.

And here's my 13:

  1. Forrest Gump (1994). I thought it was both touching and brilliant in a not-too-deep sort of way.
  2. How To Make An American Quilt (1995). I loved the visual and verbal poetry.
  3. Before Sunrise (1995). Has a rare quality to it.
  4. Schindler's List (1993). I think Schidler's List is on everybody's.
  5. Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992).
  6. The Shawshank Redemption (1994). I cut class to when i watched this. Wasn't disappointed.
  7. A Few Good Men (1992). Linear but powerful.
  8. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). Love the premise, the conflict and the Burtonesque eye-candy.
  9. James and the Giant Peach (1996). Tim Burton + Roald Dahl = Happy kid movie.
  10. Reality Bites (1994). This wasn't a great movie, but it encapsulates Generation X. Has a memorable hit song too.
  11. Romeo + Juliet (1996). It got me hooked the first scene the moment I realized they used the original Shakespeare text set in 90's USA. Stunning visuals besides.
  12. Saving Private Ryan (1998). I'm a sucker for WW2 flicks.
  13. Good Will Hunting (1997). Watched it at least twice. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's Oscar acceptance speech was just as remarkable.

I realize that there are a ton of 90's movies that I like. Here are otheres that don't quite make it to my top 13 but are otherwise memorable: The Matrix (199), The Devil's Advocate (97), American Beauty (99), Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace (99), 54 (98), Edward Scissorhands (90), Clueless (95), Gattaca (97), Titanic (97), Se7en(95) , Braveheart (95), Beauty and the Beast (91), Jurassic Park (93), Pulp Fiction (94), The Fugitive (93), The Lion King (94), Speed (94), Independence Day (96), There's Somethig About Mary (98) , Boogie Nights (97), Pretty Woman (90), With Honors (94), Sleepers, LA Confidetial, Fight Club, Scent of A Woman (92), Alladin(92), The Man In The Iron Mask (97), Ever After (98), Titanic (97), My Best Friend's Wedding(96).

get those canvas bags ready!

I heard on the news yesterday that a bill was recently filed in congress regarding a tax on plastic bags.

House Bill 4134 pushes for the imposition of a P2.50 excise tax on every plastic bag. According to Rep. Al Bichara, the bill’s author, this will prompt shoppers to opt for environment-friendly alternatives.

Petrochemicals and nonbiodegradables, BOO!

Great idea. I really hope it sees the light. I wonder why this wasn't pushed locally earlier. ;)

I personally wouldn't mind toting around my own paper or canvas bag to go green (for that matter, I've already had some large-ish cloth bags for that purpose). I don't appreciate plastic bags anyway. They are quick to accumulate into an eyesore monster around the house.

But on a more non-personal level, this will hopefully minimize our country's own eyesores.

I personally don't believe Global Warming could be stopped - it is an inevitable event that the planet has been cycling into and out of for centuries, if you have been paying attention to Earth history, environmentalist ladies and gentlemen - it can only be delayed. But I'm all for prolonging the pleasantness of life on earth, ayt? I am well aware that my little plastic bag fast isn't really a large-scale solution, but at least I stop being a part of the small-scale problem.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

recovery notes

After nearly a month of thinking I could find no pearls along the path, I realize that there was a big pearl right under my chin, so close that I nearly missed it.

It's been a hard five weeks since my dad was discharged from the hospital. His stroke naturally meant that our lives would be different from then on. His doctors (including our dear uncle the general surgeon) made it quite clear to us that our dad would not have full use of his motor and verbal skills for at least a few months, and even after then he will need supervision for every aspect of his life. The way my uncle put it, Papa will be the child now and we will be the parents. We'd had to work our routines around his new ones - blood pressure checks, sugar counts, diet regulations, adjustments to the interior of the house, medicine intakes - it was a sudden adjustment that I neglected most of my own routines. He now needs at least one of us by his side 24/7. I felt as if I was being robbed of my own life.

I couldn't keep from thinking about the inconvenience of having a 63-year old baby about as gentle, submissive and as patient as Grond. Many times he would express his frustration at not being able to say what he wanted to, and at our not comprehending his message. Add to that the unnecessary pressure of meddling-but-not-very-helpful relatives who always seem to notice what we've done wrong and overlook what we've done right. And then the stress of getting in each other's hair every so often.

But wait - this is my happy thawts blog. No whining in here, right?

I needed to put all that first just to emphasize how welcome a seemingly tiny blessing is in the midst of all the unpleasantness.

And here's what it is:

A month or so into recovery, our dad is doing good. Even the doctors and therapists say that his quick recuperation is surprisingly ahead of schedule. His Grond-like qualities have been helpful to him in that he forces himself to cope and regain his strength. He is now able to walk quite briskly (whick is his normal pace, pre-stroke) with the help of a cane; we needed the wheelchair for only two weeks. The right side of his body which was still weak post-op has regained strength; he has close to full use of his limbs. His speech has not yet retured to normal, but with the help of speech therapy, he has been able to communicate better.

And speaking of that - we've been told that there are only five speech pathologists in the country, and that we are quite fortunate to have one attend to our dad.

Healing is good. It ain't all extremely superatural, but healing is still healing and it is welcome here.

I have no illusions that things will return to exactly the same as they were, but hey, we're in good Hands. Life ain't a piece of cake, but we've got enough sugar to last us.